One Romance and Two Thrillers This Week

Will wonders never cease? I’m actually interested in all three of the new dramas airing this week, though my desire to watch them varies significantly. Honestly, if I pick any of these up, it will probably be determined by which of these I can get with my standard Viki Pass. Will you be checking out any of them?

Wok of Love
SBS
40 (mini) episodes
Monday/Tuesady
Available on Viki.com/KoCoWa.com

Chef Seo Poong used to be at the top of Korea’s culinary ladder. He worked at the best Chinese restaurant in the country, but when his popularity faded, he crashed hard. Now Poong works at an obscure restaurant that has fallen on hard times. The building the restaurant is in is owned by Doo Chil-sung, a former gang member who has recently done time in prison. Poong and Chil-sung’s paths cross with Dan Sae-woo, a rich woman who frequently craves Chinese food.

Secret Mother
SBS
40 (mini) episodes
Saturday
Available on Viki.com/KoCoWa.com

Psychiatrist Kim Yoon-jin leaves her job after the death of her daughter and throws herself into being a housewife by caring for her son and supporting her husband’s career. Yoon-jin hires Lisa Kim, an expert in helping high schoolers prep for college, but Lisa has an agenda of her own for getting into Yoon-jin’s household: uncovering the truth behind her sister’s disappearance. Meanwhile, homicide detective Ha Jung-hwan is the only person who believes Yoon-jin’s doubts surrounding her daughter’s death and works with her to uncover the truth.

Lawless Lawyer
tvN
16 episodes
Saturday/Sunday
Available on Viki.com

Bong Sang-pil was a member of a gang, but he turned his life around in order to avenge his mother. Now a lawyer, Sang-pil has a reputation for finding loopholes in the law and for being unafraid to use his fists when necessary. He teams up with fellow lawyer Ha Jae-yi, who is hot-tempered and reckless in her work. Together the two of them will use their profession (and less reputable methods) to take down the powerful people who think they’re above the law.

Motherhood, Children’s Day, and Drama News

Things aren’t going too hot for the Korean Air family, and mothers get the short end of the stick. Also, cult stuff maybe?

The Inter-Korean Summit Meeting: “Peace on Land and Sea: Will the Demilitarized Zone Be ‘Demilitarized’?” “Residents near North Korean border relieved at removal of propaganda loudspeakers,” “Panmunjeom Declaration implementation committee holds inaugural meeting at Blue House,” and “More than half of S. Koreans trust NK willingness for denuclearization.”

Korean Air scandals: “Ediya Coffee terminates contract with Korean Air heiresses,” “Prosecution rejects Korean Air heiress’ arrest warrant over alleged assault,” “Cho Hyun-ah, Hyun-min Regularly Smuggled Chocolate and Designer Handbags from Overseas,” and “Korean Air employees hold candlelight vigil against controlling family.”

Investigations into the Lee Myung-bak government: “Ex-president Lee Myung-bak denies all corruption charges in initial hearing.”

“Druking Scandal Shadows Moon Jae-in’s ‘Super Spring.'” A scandal has erupted over the manipulation of comments on Naver, and what responsibility the company has toward the people. (This seems fairly equivalent to all the Facebook stuff that’s been revealed over the last couple months.)

“Police grill Rep. Kim on bribery, manipulation.” This is tied into the Naver comments manipulation scandal.

#MeToo: “Rape apology sought from baduk champion,” “NHRCK Survey Confirms High School Teachers Are Sexually Harassing Their Students,” and “The #MeToo Poem That Brought Down Korea’s Most Revered Poet.”

“Dark side of play for S. Korea’s female game makers.” *screams into the void*

“Unwed single mothers battle against harsh reality.” 83% of single parents in Korea do not receive any child support from the noncustodial parent. 80% of Korean single parents are women.

“Working mothers struggle to meet demands: Balancing duties of home and the office come at a cost.” Working mothers in their 30s spent an average of 174 minutes on leisure activities, while working fathers in their 30s spent 237 minutes.

“Koreans work third-longest hours in OECD.” Mexico and Costa Rica were first and second, respectively.

“Children’s Day: A celebration of childhood.” A brief look at Children’s Day in Korea.

“Military’s ‘glass ceiling’ eliminated in South Korea.” Good.

“‘Suits’ Maintains Lead In Its Time Slot As ‘Switch’ Sees Increase In Viewership Ratings.” You’re so close to double digits!

“My Mister is on vacation this week.” The show will be back on May 9 and 10.

“Jo Jung Suk And YoonA To Unite As Leads Of New Action Film.” His IRL girlfriend is only five months younger than him, why do casting directors keep sticking him with ladies a full decade younger?

“​Evergreen’s Hwang Chan Ho dies of heart attack.” Condolences to his family and friends.

“Lee Si Young And Ji Hyun Woo Confirmed As Leads For MBC Drama.” Do I like you enough to sit through a medical drama?

“K-pop heavyweight Park Jin-young denies preaching for religious cult.” This seems fitting for 2018.

Closing – 4 Hopes for Mother

Between my late start and general life hectic-ness, it took me an extra six weeks to complete Mother, but I’m glad I finished it. Mother was a solid show, filled with a variety of women in different stages of life, economic class, and background. While I had various nitpicks throughout the show, I had few actual grievances with it. It’s time to look back at my four original hopes and compare them to what the show actually did.

  1. Ja-young’s abuse isn’t pinned on her single mother status. Aside from a few lines, the show was actually careful not to assign Ja-young’s abusive behavior to her single mother status. It really helped that Yeong-sin, Soo-jin, and Hong-hee were portrayed as good single mothers who were capable of living up to what the show had decided was its criteria for True Motherhood. Unfortunately for me, I actually sided against the show on that point. Ooops.
  2. The show tackles the social and cultural failures of preventing child abuse. I really liked the setup to Soo-jin’s decision to kidnap Hye-na. The show didn’t shy away from pointing out all the ways the school and the police failed to protect her, and it even got meta toward the end with Hyun-jin writing exposés about Hye-na’s case. If these systems hadn’t failed Hye-na so thoroughly, this show never would have happened.
  3. Hye-na is able to make decisions that are respected by Soo-jin. Soo-jin was amazing at this. I loved how often she checked in with/consulted Hye-na and explained things to her in an age-appropriate way. Honestly, the show gets full marks for this, especially since they also had Hye-na run off and do things on her own/in spite of what Soo-jin would have wanted for her. It felt like Hye-na had agency and that she was respected by Soo-jin.
  4. Soo-jin gets to explore both the good and the bad about motherhood. I don’t think Soo-jin had a whole lot of the bad, per se—most of the bad was directly related to her being on the run from the law—but with all the other mothers in the show, we got a long, hard look at some of motherhood’s more disappointing and/or unsavory aspects. I’m still ready and willing to pick a fight with the show over its True Motherhood conclusion, but I didn’t walk away from it thinking it would be all joy and rainbows, either.

So what did you think of the show? It’s going to end up high on my list for 2018, that’s for sure.

Two Remakes in Dramaland

Guess who can’t keep track of dates and totally missed the fact that we had two separate shows premier last week? Me. In an interesting turn of events, they’re both remakes, one from the U.S. and the other from the U.K. Are they already on your list?

Suits
KBS2
16 episodes
Wednesday/Thursday
Availability unknown

Choi Kang-seok is a top lawyer at one of South Korea’s most prestigious law firms. After a chance encounter with Go Yeon-woo, a college dropout with a photographic memory, Kang-seok decides to hire Yeon-woo as an associate even though Yeon-woo doesn’t have the credentials for the position.

Suits is based on the 2011 U.S. series of the same name.

 

Mistress
OCN
12 episodes
Saturday/Sunday
Available on Viki.com (in limited territories)

Four friends have their lives overturned due to their complicated relationships with others. Café owner Jang Se-yeon receives a mysterious phone call, while high school teacher Han Jung-won struggles to conceive a child and then has her life fall apart after a one-night stand. Psychiatrist Kim Eun-soo’s ex-boyfriend died, but she fears her secrets will be exposed when her ex’s son comes to see her as a patient. Meanwhile, law secretary Do Hwa-young has ex problems of her own—her ex-boyfriend’s wife is the firm’s latest client, and she wants to get evidence of her husband’s cheating.

Mistress is based on the 2008 U.K. series Mistresses.

Mother, Episode 16 [END]

TL;DR: Good job on sticking the landing. (Also, warning for a mention of anorexia.)

It is always a pleasure when a drama gives us a thematically appropriate and emotionally satisfying ending. In many respects, this episode was a slower one because it took the time to establish the stakes for its two-year time skip and provided us with fitting endings for many of the secondary characters. It didn’t try to come up with any last minute-twists or inject artificial drama into the situation. Instead it centered its finale on the most important question: could Soo-jin and Hye-na ever be reunited as mother and daughter? Continue reading “Mother, Episode 16 [END]”

New Eras, Mistranslations, and Drama News

So, just in case you missed it, the big news item this week is the meeting between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un where they signed the Panmunjeom Declaration.

Mother, Episode 15

TL;DR: You’re going to need tissues for this one.

I spent the first half of this episode being horribly confused by the family dynamics. I must have missed some crucial information along the way because I spent all the episodes prior to this assuming that Yeong-sin had adopted all three of her daughters and that they all knew they were adopted. Looks like I guessed at the existence of birth secrets way too soon—and that also means that some of my interpretations about Yi-jin were wildly off-base. Sorry, Yi-jin. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 15”

Mother, Episode 14

TL;DR: …so what are we supposed to do with the last two episodes?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we haven’t been subjected to three entire episodes of courtroom drama, but I’m not exactly sure where we’re supposed to go from here. We got verdicts for both Ja-young and Soo-jin with all the requisite moralizing (more on that later), so that means the plot is basically wrapped up. I suppose we don’t yet have character resolutions for Hye-na and Soo-jin, though I’m concerned by Hye-na’s question at the end. Just what exactly are the terms of Soo-jin’s suspended sentence, and how much will she be willing to risk (again)? Continue reading “Mother, Episode 14”

Evading Customs, Memorial Ceremonies, and Drama News

So, that “water rage” incident with the Korean Air chaebol? It has gotten so much bigger than that. Yikes.

Mother, Episode 13

TL;DR: I knew it had to happen, but that doesn’t make me any less upset about it.

With fewer and fewer places to hide, this episode felt remarkably claustrophobic. Perhaps because of this, the scenes between Soo-jin and Hye-na were especially raw. While Soo-jin held onto hope that they could escape the police search and make it to a boat, she also knew that there was a possibility her time with Hye-na was running out. The last scene at the hotel was particularly moving because Soo-jin was honest with Hye-na about their chances and about giving her the opportunity to decide to risk it all with her. Continue reading “Mother, Episode 13”